2021 Customer Experience Trends and Tactics
As we begin Q4 of an eventful 2020, it’s time to look out for the 2021 customer experience trends and tactics for creating exceptional experiences in increasingly complex environments. We rounded up Eight 2021 Customer Experience Trends and Tactics to be aware of as we get ready to close out 2020.
From contactless service and telehealth, to US Government buy-in, to new demands for customer experience strategy, 2021 promises opportunities and a new set of challenges.
1. Customer Experience is more important than ever to consumers
Post-COVID, 59% of consumers care MORE about customer experience when they decide what company to support or buy from. 38% care the same as they did pre-COVID (which was a lot).
In other words, customer experience will dictate purchasing in 2021. In 2021, if your business does not care about customer experience, you are not in tune with your customers. And you will lose them when you need them most.
2. Customer Experience is Still a Mystery
We are approaching 2021 customer experience with the same mandate we had previously. We need to educate the business world about what Customer Experience really means. Further, we must demonstrate how transformative customer experience is to every industry.
Even as 2021 looms, too many people say “Customer Experience” when they actually mean “Customer Service.” And too many executives perceive Customer Experience as something they can train their employees to do without seeing the bigger picture and building the requisite customer-centric culture, processes and technology.
In 2020 The Petrova Experience conducted a leadership survey across industries. 53% of respondents did not have a Customer Experience Leader in their organization. Only 23% had a customer experience leader that reported directly under the CEO. Keep in mind, the ONLY way to ensure enterprise-level changes to customer-centricity is to have CX leaders report directly to the CEO.
Additionally, we found only 16% of respondents described their customer experience teams as having dedicated budgets. These data points reveal we have a long way to go before we see effective customer experience programs with real impact on the 2021 customer experience.
Unfortunately, there are not many resources for businesses to get up-to-speed on customer experience strategy and best practices. Historically, Rutgers University ran a customer experience program for working professionals. However, due to coronavirus, it has been suspended indefinitely. The need for education and “translation” about what customer experience means in terms of org design, budgets and strategy is still imperative in the field.
Customer experience education is essential to keep up with 2021 customer experience trends. We know customers will be watching us closely, waiting for us to do the right things. And we need to know how to do those right things.
3. A Customer Experience Strategy will Define Your Success in 2021
This is what 2021 looks like without customer experience strategy…
You are in event planner or trade show organizer. You risk pushing your visitors away with the now outmoded 2019 experience of paper badges and long check-in lines.
Now, say you are a retailer (luxury or not). In 2021, without a real investment in digital technology, you still have a fragmented omnichannel shopping experience.
Or, maybe you are an airport. Your passengers are more lost than ever. They are confused about their travel experience as they pass through your facilities. There is too much fragmentation.
Let’s get to the root of this, not only from the perspective of 2021 customer experience trends. In 2019, 78% of customers preferred to use different channels depending on their context. Responding to this preference seamlessly and consistently is no easy task for any brand. So, how do you deliver what customers need and want in 2021?
To start, organizations must have a context in which to build seamless journeys. Customer experience strategy provides that necessary context. In fact, customer experience strategy is the first step to business survival in 2021, especially for large organizations and iconic brands.
4. Even the US Government is Jumping on the 2021 Customer Experience Trends Train
Customer experience must be part of your business strategy. That is non-negotiable. Even the US Government is working on elevating citizens’ experiences. As far back as 2018, an article explains the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience on a Federal Government website.
Take USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for example. USCIS Officers are already trained on hospitality. They ask callers if they have solved all their problems. And they offer callback so callers do not have to wait on the line. By the way, not many private organizations offer this feature!
This is happening today. Not in 2021. Furthering its customer experience commitment, the US Federal Government launched a Customer Experience mandate for 25 of their public-facing agencies to improve the US Public experience.
In other words, in 2021 you risk hearing “My experience with the IRS is better than my experience with you.”
5. Contactless and Self-Service are Here to Stay
Just 3 years ago when we were designing the facial recognition boarding experience for JetBlue, contactless experience was considered innovative in the US. We were “pushing the envelope” and going above and beyond. Even the self-service airport lobbies were edgy and sexy.
Today, the DMV offers self-service temperature checks and the restaurant industry suddenly found out there are QR codes to get menus on diners’ phones!
This summer, Oracle and Skift published a comprehensive study about consumer travel expectations post-Covid. They found that 35% of consumers will be more comfortable staying at a hotel if the facility offers contactless payment. This feature ranked ABOVE temperature taking, smartphone keys, and self-service check-in via kiosk. That means when we design future contactless experiences, they REALLY need to be contactless.
The consumer is not stupid. He/she knows when you are “almost there” even though you say you are fully contactless. The self-service card payment that asks me to sign on the display with my finger at the end of the process is NOT a contactless solution.
Brands need to do the hard work and build ALL integrations necessary to design “real” contactless payment experiences. 73% of hotel executives agree that self-service will be increasingly important for guest experience. The question for 2021 customer experience is whether they will invest in it. Especially for the new properties that will open.
6. Telehealth is Here to Stay
We all read the statistics of the accelerated digital health growth this year. The important question is what will happen in 2021?
Although the numbers from this year are not realistic, telehealth will take roughly 25% of healthcare by 2025. This is enough growth of an industry that costs America 18% of the GDP to pay attention to.
According to doctor.com 60% of patients want to make an appointment digitally and quality customer service is the number one factor that drives patient loyalty. With higher adoption comes the work necessary to create seamless patient experience. And the need to design a functioning outcome-based model.
Similar to retail, healthcare must invest in the design and implementation of patient experience that allows a journey to start in the digital channel and transition seamlessly to the physical. In 2021 there will be more investments in patient experience applying human-centered design both for the patient and the physician experience.
7. Websites are Enjoying a Renaissance
The website is back. Really, this is not surprising. What is interesting, though, is how slowly brands respond to consumer behaviors. Even as we approach 2021, there are websites that have not been updated. They lack useful customer-centered messaging about the post-Covid experience consumers can expect in their preferred brands’ physical spaces. But customers need that information in order to continue to trust their beloved brands.
Yesterday, my mother flew on United across Europe. When she asked me if there would be food on board, I could not give her an answer. It is fair to say all industries have some work to do in this department. The aviation industry is not the only one missing the mark here.
Healthcare providers, retailers, and grocery stores all have work to do. In 2021, your web experience will be a driver of customer loyalty. So, give that part of their journey the love (money) and attention (time) it deserves.
8. 2021 Customer Experience is about Relationships over Transactions
The 2021 customer pays attention to you as a brand. They look to see how empathetic you really are. Today, luxury hotel and spa guests are asking employees how they have been treated by their employer.
You are being evaluated on the human scale more than ever before. As a result, your value proposition is evaluated on HOW you do your business.
This is why an investment in corporate culture makes sense in 2021. If you don’t have a corporate culture, make one. If you have a corporate culture that no one is practicing, revisit it. Determine if failure to practice culture is because it is no longer relevant. Or if it is because you have not made the necessary investment to operationalize your belief system in the field.
According to Salesforce research 71% of customers believe businesses that have shown more care and empathy this year have gained more loyalty during the time period. So, there is money to be made in having a heart. It just may take you longer to cash out. But it is certainly worth it. For you. And for your customers.
Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement
In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI…
What is the survey question that will prioritize your #CX roadmap?
As customer experience professionals, we need to factor in this disconnect when we design surveys. And when we react to survey results. Customers have an image of who they want to be. However, their behaviors do not always reflect that image.
3 Ways to Create a Better Employee Experience Strategy
Guest Post by Gabe Smith, CCXP for The Petrova Experience The relationship between employee experience strategy and customer experience has long been discussed. Without engaged employees, we’re told, it’s difficult…
How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty
A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).
A Customer Experience Strategy will Define Your Success in 2021
While there may not be a magic pill to guarantee the perfect customer experience, there is one thing that every organization needs to transform into a customer-centric business. And that…
How to Extend Your Travel Experience Value Proposition
Last December the Ladders published that discusses business travelers who extend travel beyond the timeline of the business trip. The article says, “[a]ccording to a new study by La Quinta by…
Customer Experience Survey: Why Customers Are Not Responding
When you solicit customer feedback sometimes matters more than how you ask the questions. In the case of a survey about new biometrics boarding initiatives my team and I created for JetBlue, we had a list of feedback that was most important for us.
Customer Experience Tips and Best Practices In 2017?
In Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on customer experience tips, lessons learned, and best practices for the new year on JetBlue, she explores the importance of “keeping the human…
Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team
The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI on your Customer Experience initiatives quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.
Why Bt2B Businesses Must Think Like B2C in the Next Decade
B2B vs B2B thinking makes a real difference when it comes to customer experience. According to Gartner at least 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same buying experience as…
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year, I attended an event hosted…
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
Customer Facing Experience: Communication and Hospitality
Today, we are talking about communication as part of the customer facing experience. This is one of the most misused and misinterpreted notions both in our professional lives and our…
Customer Experience Design – How Do You Want Customers To Feel?
Last week, we talked about CX Design in terms of space and function. Today, we continue our CX design journey to talk about the design of emotions and feelings. The new…
The One CX Goal You Need to Set for 2019
For 2019, I urge you to make only one CX goal – bring about business success with your customer experience work. Don’t just do work in the general sense. Rather, set a CX goal that has a real impact on your customers and their experiences with your brand.
Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues
The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of…
Customer Experience Audit: eBay’s Vibrant Marketplace of the Future
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. See all audit stories. Two years ago RJ Pittman and eBay made a big bet and made…
Airport Experience: Are You Letting Down Your Precious Travelers?
A month and a half ago, as part of our ongoing conversation about airport experience, we introduced the concept of revenge travel. We pleaded with the public to trust us…
Leadership During the Pandemic: Guest Post by Rachel Dreyfus
This is a guest post by Rachel Dreyfus, President, Dreyfus Advisors, who researched leadership during the pandemic. How has Covid19 influenced leadership over the past three months? Research results show…
Why Customer Retention is the True Measure of SaaS Success
Guest Post by Callie Reynolds for The Petrova Experience In SaaS (Software as a Service), like in most businesses, sales is king. Sales gets the glory, and while I’d like…
Employee Engagement and Wellness In The Workplace: Guest Post
Today, The Petrova Experience brings you a guest article about employee engagement, by Natlie DeVito of Commonwealth Joe. Commonwealth Joe is an innovative company, new to the New York City…
Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year….
Culture Starts at the Top
Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.
4 Career Tips to obtain a Customer Experience Role
In honor of the 4th of July, we are rounding up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate the steps you need to get to the next level.
CX Bold Moves: JetBlue Paperless And Deviceless Boarding
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the CX Bold Moves stories. This year JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who…
CX Design Makes Form and Function Beautiful – and Cosmopolitan Magazine Notices
At its core, design is about value creation. In the world of Customer Experience, value-driven design requires CX professionals to use empathy to imagine a future customer experience that is…
Customer Experience Design – Make the Customer Know Who You Are
Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings, it is time to turn our attention to aesthetics, and to connect customer experience…
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It
Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in.
Travel Experience Stories: How Not to Leave Customers Stranded
Meet Diane, and get to know her travel experience story. Diane is traveling with her 2 year old and 5 year old to her in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. This is…
How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston
On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover because it has…
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
United CEO does not care about #customers happiness. Really?
Lately, I have been thinking about United Airlines. In the beginning I thought about them because someone asked whether it is possible to build a customer-centric culture in a company…
Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. In this series we walk you through customer experience examples across industries. We feature brands that made…
WeWork Does CX Right with a Wow Moment
Used at the right time and place along the customer’s journey, the Wow Moment is an excellent retention technique. When a brand creates personal, relevant experience at exactly the right time, it can build a lifelong, loyal customer relationship.
Autonomous Customers, Traveler Privacy and More Questions for CX Professionals in a Changing World
“As we move toward a more automated culture, most travelers will adapt to a Jetsonian, automated lifestyle. Every industry we know will be disrupted. For those of us in aviation,…
Customer Experience Audit: FedEx Omnichannel Disaster
In our Strategy, Org Design & Culture series we cover customer-focused companies that are willing to adapt, take risks and discover new ways of staying relevant. Sometimes, we encounter brands…
Freelance Customer Experience Lessons for Freelancers
For small businesses and freelancers alike, it’s important to recognize that your business is as strong as the relationships you build with your customers. That’s just one of the key…
Our Holiday Wishes for Great CX
Every successful customer experience initiative starts with a skilled CX team. Brush up on your CX skills to strengthen the business case for CX; to develop relationships within your organization; and to deliver standout customer experiences in the new year.
Is Covid19 What We Needed to Build Seamless End-to-End Travel Experience?
On January 10th, we published an article called The Future of Travel We Deserve. In it, we laid out the foundation necessary to implement innovation at scale. Four months later,…
Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe
Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs and thus joins other brands as examples of…
Customer Experience Audit: Uber Bets On Self-Driving Cars With Big Volvo Purchase
The question that remains unanswered is who will be part of the future of transportation. Uber is going for the vertical integration – the whole pie. The future industry of urban transportation will be made of players in three different categories: cars, self-driving software, and ride-sharing network. In contrast, Lyft approaches the future through partnerships.
Let’s Get You Certified as a Customer Experience Professional!
Like all mature professions, customer experience has a certification that is internationally recognized. Adding it to your resume will signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your aspiration to be part of its leadership ranks…
Poor Integration is Bad for Customer Journey and Worse for Brands
Although we all have bad customer experiences, there is still a big debate about “the CX field” and whether it will survive the test of time. There is no doubt…
How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture
If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of an…